Emotional A, B, C’s

The power of a name. Do you remember naming things when you were a kid and first learning how to read or write? Teachers would teach the alphabet with the aid of the quintessential A – Apple, B – Boat, C – Cat, etc. It was comforting to have these visual aids to help with something so abstract and new to us at the time – which was language! Now language is second-nature and it feels like something we’ve known how to do since birth.

 I wish our education system would go further and use this same format to teach the naming of our emotions and how to incorporate emotional fluency into our life the same way they teach language fluency.

Sure we know happy, sad, and angry. But things pretty much stop there at the basics. There are many more complex emotions that we don’t get acquainted with early on and don’t get taught how to approach and live with them. Not only that but we aren’t taught about where these emotions might stem from. Or how new emotions, like fear, terror and trauma responses might come from experiences that we may encounter. Even further, we are not taught how to work with these emotions once they grow within us.

Not one of us is immune from the human condition, and not one of us will make it out of life without experiencing unpleasant emotions, unpleasant relationships and unpleasant circumstances beyond our control. Since these things are certainties we should make it a rule to strengthen our mental capacities to face these inevitabilities with confidence.

No doubt, learning these skills from a young age would do a great deal of preventative care, but as adults, even if we might have missed the bus on learning these things at a young age, it’s never too late to try out a different way of thinking about, and interacting with out emotional selves.

Is there an emotion that you’ve been trying to put your finger on lately but it’s been alluding you? Do you feel a general unease or confusion with your feelings? Do you find yourself over using one or two words to describe your emotions when you feel that doesn’t entirely fit the bill?

If so, I want to challenge you this week to sit with that puzzling feeling. Go inside yourself and see if that feeling has a shape to it, maybe a color, maybe a sound. See what that feeling wants to or needs to tell you.

We can’t escape our emotions, so the best thing to do is get acquainted with them. It may be scary, but give it a try.


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